MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippine National Police’s going on heightened alert is related more to President Benigno Aquino III’s recent foreign trip and not to a supposed bomb plot in Metro Manila, Malacañang said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the PNP has a standard operating procedure to go on heightened alert when the head of state goes abroad.
“May protocol ang PNP kung kailan ibababa ang heightened alert. It’s SOP for the PNP when a head of state goes out of the country,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
“’Yan ang dahilan bakit nag-increase ng alert at walang ibang dahilan,” she added.
Aquino returned to the Philippines Friday night after taking part in the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia.
Earlier this week, the embassies of the United States and Australia advised their nationals in the Philippines to take precautions due to a supposed bomb plot in Metro Manila.
On Thursday, the US Embassy in Manila cited reports that suspects involved in such a plot were arrested in Quezon City.
In a security message, the embassy cited Oct. 8 media reports that three men “known to have links to terrorist organizations” were arrested in Quezon City.
“The Embassy wishes to remind all US citizens to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security in all circumstances by reviewing your personal security plans,” it said.
The embassy advised US nationals who see a suspicious package or object to not disturb it and instead notify an appropriate officials such as a police officer or building security staff, then leave the area.
“If you are in the vicinity when a security threat occurs, leave the area immediately. Do not approach the scene of a bombing or remain in the area,” it said.
On Friday, Australia similarly advised its nationals in the Philippines to take precautions against possible bomb attacks.
In an update to its travel advice on the Philippines, the Australian embassy said the supposed bomb plot had targets in Metro Manila.
“On 9 October 2014, the US Embassy issued an alert noting that, according to media reports, police had arrested suspects involved in a bombing plot planned for targets in metro Manila. The plot was exposed on October 7 following the arrest in Quezon City of three men known to have links to terrorist organizations,” it said.
The embassy reiterated its advice to its nationals not to travel to central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu archipelago, “due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping, violent crime and violent clashes between armed groups.”
Also, it maintained its advice for its nationals “to reconsider your need to travel to eastern Mindanao.”
“We continue to advise you to exercise a high degree of caution overall in the Philippines,” it added. (MNS)